Gregory Benford

NEWS | David Friedman and L.E. Modesitt on Economics in (Their) Fiction Thumbnail

Harald by David Friedman

A physicist by training and an economist by vocation, David Friedman, son of famed economist Milton Friedman, is best known in libertarian circles as the author of The Machinery of Freedom, a utilitarian case for anarcho-capitalism.

But David Friedman has also written two fantasy novels: Harald and Salamander. Recently, in two blogposts, he discussed the economics and physics in his fiction. Update: There is a third post on related matters (military logistics) in Harald; be sure to peruse the comments on this one.

In the first post, Friedman references a blogpost by an economist working at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research about his realization that “Sci-fi needs economists.”1 He can take heart, perhaps, that science fiction authors are becoming more economically literate (or so Gregory Benford believes).

Reading Friedman’s posts reminded me of some things I read and listened to from L.E. Modesitt, Jr., a while back. A professional economist before becoming a full-time science fiction and fantasy author, Modesitt has also discussed how he incorporates the economic point of view into his work (see The Magic of Recluse, for starters) as well as the importance of understanding economics in order to write practical fantasy:
[Keep reading…]


  1. Bonus: Reading through the comments, I happened this tidbit: A Travis J. I. Corcoran is working on a science fiction novel titled The Powers of the Earth, “a novel about anarchocapitalism, economics, corporate finance, antigravity, lunar colonization, genetically modified dogs and AI.” According to his website, it’s due out July 2012, so it might be something to keep an eye out for. 

{ 9 comments }

Help Promote Prometheus Unbound by Sharing this Post

NEWS | Gregory Benford in Reason Magazine on Science Fiction in Light of Humanity’s Future in Space Thumbnail

Wernher von Braun's Vision

There’s an article by science fiction author Gregory Benford in the February issue of Reason Magazine (also available online at Reason.com). I hadn’t realized it, but Benford has written three other articles for Reason (see below for a list of the others).

In the article, Benford briefly discusses the role of Nazi SS officer and rocket scientist Wernher von Braun ((Benford doesn’t call Von Braun a facilitator of mass murder, but does mention that he ran “Adolf Hitler’s V-1 and V-2 programs, which sent more than 10,000 rockets into England in 1944 and 1945.”)) in the American government’s space program, from his popular promotion of his vision of man conquering space (interesting choice of war metaphor) to his running the Apollo program.

Benford discusses Von Braun’s vision for how man will conquer space, a vision that strikes me as impractical and expensive and that still lingers in NASA today. He also highlights the decline of NASA and its “ruinously expensive” nature of the American government’s space shuttle program, which suffered catastrophic failures and kept going long past its planned obsolescence.

Though Benford says that Von Braun’s vision lives on, I’m not so sure of that. If he means Von Braun’s  general vision of man “conquering” space, then yes, that vision is not dead. If he means Von Braun’s more specific vision of how this is to be accomplished, then no, I do not think that vision will live on.

[Keep reading…]

{ 0 comments }

Help Promote Prometheus Unbound by Sharing this Post

A few years ago in honor of Arthur C. Clarke’s then-recent birthday, I wrote on my own blog that he must never have read Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard,

because according to this quote cited by Gregory Benford in his happy-birthday letter in Locus Magazine (January 2008), he claims that “there are some general laws governing scientific extrapolation, as there are not (pace Marx) in the case of politics and economics.” Well, far be it from me to disagree that Marx was wrong about a lot of things, but Clarke is wrong here. Sir Clarke, you may be 90 years old now, and happy birthday by the way, but it’s never too late to acquire a firm grasp of sound economic theory.

As disappointing as it is, it’s not surprising that he had a natural-scientistic bias against economics. Sadly, he died only a few months after my post.

In a more recent article in the Sri Lanka Guardian, more of Clarke’s economic ignorance is on display:

While researching for this article I came across a searing indictment by Clarke on the American capitalist system. After observing that the structure of American society may be unfitted for the effort that the conquest of space demands he continued, “No nation can afford to divert its ablest men into essentially non-creative and occasionally parasitic occupations such as law, insurance and banking”. He also referred to a photograph in Life Magazine showing 7,000 engineers massed behind a new model car they had produced as ‘a horrifying social document’. He was appalled by the squandering of technical manpower it represented. All this indeed makes one wonder whether he really was a closet socialist.

[Keep reading…]

{ 0 comments }

Help Promote Prometheus Unbound by Sharing this Post

Archives (by Date)

  • 2014 (2)
  • 2013 (20)
  • 2012 (125)
  • 2011 (73)
  • 2010 (22)

Categories

  • Admin Updates (7) 
  • IP (30) 
  • Statism (15) 

Support Prometheus Unbound








$


Donate toward our web hosting bill!




Get 1 FREE Audiobook from Audible with 30;Day FREE Trial Membership


We recommend Scrivener as the best content-generation tool for writers.

Recent Comments